Kia’s Pluggin’ In with New Ray Concept

12 Feb 2010 | 3,535 views | No Comment
Kia’s latest, the Ray Concept, bowed at the Chicago Auto Show, with a sleek, voluptuous design penned by the company’s Irvine California-based Kia Design Center America. It’s a looker—but we have a sneaking suspicion Kia expects you to remember this one for something other than its visual charms. You see, it’s is designed to be powered by an all-aluminum 153-horsepower Gasoline Direct Injected (GDI) 1.4-liter engine mated to a permanently-engaged fixed ratio Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), used in combination with a 78kw electric motor. Depending on driving conditions, power is sent to the wheels from the gasoline engine, the electric motor, or both together. The Ray concept is front-wheel drive with a four-wheel independent suspension.  And oh yes---it’s a plug-in hybrid.  Any questions? Historically in the auto industry, the relationship between engineers and designers has been rocky, to say the least. Designers think engineers limit them, and engineers think designers are, well…out of their minds. But that’s not supposed to be the case with this car. “The  Kia Ray concept is a bold new collaboration between design and engineering and inventively showcases a futuristic four-seat compact sedan based on the Kia Forte platform and demonstrates a prospective plug-in hybrid vehicle configuration from Kia. Designed with lightweight and recycled materials, as well as hexagonal roof-top solar cells embedded in the glass roof panel. “It is important to imagine what people will want in the future from a green perspective early in the design process, because people want to reduce their carbon footprint without driving carbon copies,” said Peter Schreyer, chief design officer, Kia Motors Corporation. “Being green doesn’t have to be an obvious statement anymore and the Kia Ray exemplifies a viable blend of modern, eco-minded features for today’s environmentally conscious consumers.” Kia’s news release says, “The stylish, aerodynamic Ray combines design and engineering for maximum efficiency, incorporating clean, flush surfaces minimizing any unneeded edges, a flowing profile and pronounced rear shoulder ending in a slightly high deck lid for reduced drag, touch-screen controls, drive-by-wire steering, “cool-glazing” solar glass and a lithium-polymer battery – all possible indicators of future technology from Kia. As a plug-in hybrid, Ray is designed to reach driving distances of more than 50 miles using its electric motor on a single charge, and has a fuel economy rating of more than 202 miles per gallon, and has a total range of 746 miles.” Very cool.

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